The Capitol and state security forces have heightened their watch against a possible spillover of conflict from Negros Oriental and Leyte where the national government has centered its efforts to crush communist insurgency.
Governor Arthur Yap, after the clash between the Philippine Army and a suspected 15-man New People’s Army (NPA) unit in Bilar, said that rebels from the two provinces are seeking refuge in nearby localities such as Bohol’s remote villages.
“With the increased operations sa Negros, increased operations sa Leyte, mangita sila og sanctuary mao ng dili nato pasagdan, hilanglan abtik ta,” he said.
Yap assured that the NPA is “far” from reestablishing a stronghold in Bohol which, he said, is still deemed insurgency-free, almost 10 years after the province was declared cleared of leftist guerrillas.
But the governor noted that local government units should not be complacent as he called for mayors to boost efforts to fight insurgency.
“Kung mo relax-relax ta, naa g’yuy posibilidad,” Yap said on communist guerrilla activity in the province.
The clash in Bilar on Saturday left one soldier and one suspected rebel dead. It was the first encounter between state forces and suspected communist insurgents in recent years that resulted in casualties.
First Lt. Grace Remonde, civil military officer of the Philippine Army 47th Infantry Battalion, did not discount the possibility of retaliatory attacks but assured that the PA and the police are on top of things.
“We couldn’t say that nga may retaliation but it is possible. Anyway, army and PNP are very vigilant all the time,” she said.
Meanwhile, Yap said that the Capitol’s support will not only be directed to the police and the military, but to the communities as well by making sure that government services reach underserved areas in far-flung villages.
He said that “prosperity teams” have been deployed to the top 20 villages which have been pinpointed as “isolated barangays” where outreach programs are set to be conducted.
“Sauna pa, ang ubang mga taw wala silay mga opportunity syempre matintal sila sa kung unsang idea, mao ng importante karon na even as the military and police are pursuing all of these armed elements, kita sa province we have to give support to the military, the police and sa community,” he said. (R. Tutas)